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The Rupture Dogs (12:00 – Spurs Of Rock Stage)

A band with more balls than the Coleraine Jet Centre, the brothers McGreevy and the wee wolf that is Gary Hanratty collectively boarded the stage to some disarray – barriers not yet erected, crowds being held back at the gates – and yet by the third song in had gathered the passing attention of the masses, packing out the tent with an early performance that stood strong in spite of all the furore that came later in the day. Pinging out distilled Foos‘ style riffs, matched by the uniquely talented vocals of frontman Allan, they exceeded all of the requirements (and then some) needed to open such a prestigious event as Glasgowbury’s tenth birthday.

Highlight: Allan asking for the audience to choose their last song, me shouting “Today & Tonight“, and him saying no. I cried inside.

And So I Watch You From Afar (4:00 – G-Sessions Stage)

A secret show that wasn’t so secret, and an audience that not so much as welcomed home four travelling audio heroes, as gave a triumphant thank you to the four horsemen of the sonic apocalypse…who just happen to call Northern Ireland their gaff. Through charging our lungs with material from ‘The Letters EP‘, past a teasing of new material and on to the crushingly strong ‘Set Guitars To Kill‘, And So I Watch You From Afar continually prove that their brand of ‘hoo-rah’ will cause people to sing along to instrumental music, crowd surf and go fucking mental in equal measure. In fact, I’m surprised there wasn’t a birth in the crowd…

Highlight: Going breathless and partially blind during ‘Set Guitars To Kill‘ and then realising that I was fairly dehydrated – a wonderful feeling that only those four hallions can deliver whilst sitting down. Might need a check up…

Team Fresh (4:10 – Spurs Of Rock Stage)

The only logical negative that could be squarely aimed at Glasgowbury over the last few years has been its ability to showcase a much wider range of the music that’s being performed here in Northern Ireland, and this year any solid detractors can tip the hat in the Draperstown direction with the inclusion of such acts as Team Fresh and Pocket Billiards to an already eclectic line-up. With a vibrant animalistic crowd on tap – many of them very aware of what’s on offer – Team Fresh rattled out hit after hit of ‘riffrap’; taking the crowd on an experienced and tight ride through the lives of the North coast faithful. Anyone new to their sound was given an assured performance that rang true of a band stood practised, waiting in the wings, called up to festival duty and hungry to deliver.

Highlight: The powerful front prongs of Slaine Browne and Andrew Dunbar unrelentingly introducing the audience to a taste of the North coast via their powerful lyrical gymnastics.

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With the bubble of music here in Northern Ireland as intense as it is, it is sometimes easy to forget that the bands from here actually do quite a touch of jet-setting in their spare time. Back in May I managed to get caught up with one of its more frequent travellers John Dinsmore, lead singer of Warrenpoint born rock outfit, The Beat Poets. Always a revised source of music business information I decided to try and find out a bit more about their trip out to this year’s South By South West amongst all the usual trappings of recording, releasing and writing.

– Since you first strode out to SXSW (South By South West) last year, things have taken a fairly busy turn. You’ve been seemingly everywhere.
The best way I can put it is, it’s like running in sand. It is constantly busy but you sometimes feel like your still in the same spot. To be fair it has been a great year. We spent a lot of time working on a sound, new songs and a lot of studio visits rather than gigging – something we have never done on a large scale until now.

Most of our time previously was spent gigging without properly developing the band into a sound that we really wanted. We have been releasing constantly since last November and will continue to do so which is for me something we also neglected.

So, yeah it has been busy – mostly learning, developing and preparing to basically relaunch the band which has been growing steadily so far in 2010.

– Is there anything you did differently at this year’s festival compared to last, any lessons?
Last year we did six shows at SXSW, press and promotion mostly; which really helped put the band out in the international music scene. Particularly America and Canada, where I believe our sound would be well suited. This year was just as busy, cramped with a lot of high profile meetings and basically lining up stuff for the next twelve months. If we hadn’t of played the year previously none of the 2010 SXSW would have happened.

…kinda shows how long it takes to work an area of interest and to build on it. The biggest lesson for anyone going to SXSW is to prepare months in advance!

It’s clear that the US is a genuine target, both touring wise and in terms of exposure. Did you feel there was much of a response from your syndications on TV show, The Hills?

I have always felt the greatest response to our music has been across the water. I don’t know any bands that sound like us over here either to be fair, but I definitely feel the best market is over there. We have been over there playing and promoting since 2007, which I’m not sure a lot of people realise. It landed us some great stuff like The Hills, the Sonicbids endorsement, features in SXSW Magazine etc…and even just this week an iPhone app endorsement with Mobile Roadie through the El Media Group. So the same people that do The Doors, Madonna, The Black Lips and so on, are part of our application’s development.

It is a massive market and extremely hard to get noticed in but we have taken good steps at SXSW this year, so just gotta keep working at it.

In terms of the music community here at home you’ve certainly set yourselves apart by aiming at a much larger, one might say ‘stadium rock’ sound, echoing (no pun intended) the likes of U2. Has that opened a few doors?
Yeah it definitely has but it has been a mixed bag, and sometimes a slow burner – as all bands find (not easy!).

The new songs have been getting a lot of radio play, especially at day time. We’ve played some great gigs including SXSW, Marley Park, Glasgowbury and the Canadian Music Week; won several awards with Xfm London, Today FM and got good media coverage with the new releases. But it is a strange mix over here, we’re not a band that’s seen about the scene so to speak but are working relentlessly behind it to promote it, push ourselves and other new artists such as Silhouette.

In the last six months I have been making myself more visible socially, and got to know bands such as General Fiasco, And So I Watch You From Afar and Fighting With Wire; and find chatting with them highly inspirational. Three amazing bands who proved they can be successful outside the local scene and hopefully we can prove that our belief in a bigger sound and progressing outside the island is justified also.

Recently there has been a much richer layering to The Beat Poets (personally speaking). Have you played about much this year in development?
Totally, it was our major focus over the last year – hence the big reduction in gigging. We basically got rid of most of our set and re-focused to develop a ‘Beat Poets sound’. Before this our set was a mixture of influences that wasn’t blended into anything specific. It has taken longer than anticipated to do this, but definitely one of the best things we have ever done as a band.

– You’ve been fairly strict with your releases to date, putting the work in to build each one up individually. Is there a ‘five year plan’ as such?
We have ourselves a twelve month plan for the minute, with this business the way it is we look no further and leave ourselves flexible to change as things happen, but we have got our things into a lot of different stuff recently so it is a very exciting time.

– Can you reveal any plans at this stage for an album, or is it still a little too early in the calendar to be talking about that?
We are working regularly at it, and are in the studio a lot. It has been a learning curve both with developing the sound and the album, as some songs cut it others don’t. We have been highly critically in a positive way of everything we do now and it definitely brings out the best in us.

We will have more announcements at the end of the summer.

– New single ‘One By One’ will be out on May 3rd, how will you be marking the occasion?
Our headline show in the Spring & Airbrake is marking the start of the release and we’ll be launching a new ‘Beat Poets iPhone’ application next month to coincide with the release.

…I know have one but not sure if any other unsigned Northern Irish bands have one so hopefully it’ll be a first.

…gotta embrace technology these days!

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With the launch of Kasper Rosa’s new EP – cleverly titled EP2 – later on this evening at the Spring & Airbrake, I thought it was only right that for this initial post I handed the voice of this blog over to local producer Clark Phillips who has been working closely with the band over the last months on finishing the masterful little number that is being birthed.

How did you come to be involved with Kasper Rosa?
Well I’ve known Tree (James Bruce) for about 6 or 7 years now and used to play in awesome teenage bands such as ‘twentyonemilligarms’ and ‘Cry Freedom’ with with him back in the day and we’ve always jammed and talked about music, albums and recording over the years.

When I left the country to study music technology with film production at Stafford University we kept in touch and he told me about Kasper Rosa back when it was only being conceived. So when I finally finished my degree and got settled back home in here in Northern Ireland they approached me as a fully formed band with plenty of gigs under their belt and their début EP, and asked me if I wanted to work on their next production. I was flattered and excited at the same time and to be honest there wasn’t any other band in the country I wanted to jump into bed with quicker.

There are a lot of influences hanging open on the album, such as And So I Watch You From Afar, Dream Theater and 65daysofstatic – how did you find it pulling together their ideas?
I love their style and as I watched them practice in the weeks before recording them I knew this EP was going to be something special. They are all music snobs and big into their progressive rock but then again so am I so I knew it was going to work from the start.

When I heard ‘Scaling Mount Improbable’ in the practice space I got the tingles and I knew Kasper had finally found their sound. They mashed a shit load of different styles, sounds and genres into one song and at no point did I think “Oh… this isn’t going to work” …I just thought “Yeah…that sounds awesome.”

The process of recording the interludes was great as well and I was really excited about doing a seamless EP with the longer tracks fused together with these short bursts of musical finesse. I think because they are an instrumental band they think of writing music in a totally different way. These aren’t songs or tracks, they’re pieces, with movements and progressions and I think once that was established everything sort of fell into place.

You recorded elements of the album in Kasper Rosa’s house, your own house and their practice room. How did this affect the process?
Hah, yeah. That’s the disadvantage of not having your own studio. We also did some drum recording in a scout hall in Anahilt for ‘Good Luck With David‘ and ‘Nailed To The Chair For My Own Good‘ which was a good laugh. It never really mattered where we recorded as long as the mood was right. My studio includes my macbook and an 8 mic input Presonus Firestudio so it is pretty portable. We recorded the rest of the drums in their practice space which sounded great, and did some guitars and bass at my house.

It all just mattered where everyone was, who was working, who was free etc…a few candles and some incense set the mood wherever we were. Oh, and we also recorded some piano parts at Butler’s parents house, that was good craic too. In the end I was knackered though. Three months of working 9-5 at Sonic Academy in Belfast then recording at a different location every other night truly takes it out of you.

Any particular highlight of the recording process?
I suppose recording the vocals and orchestra for ‘Good Luck with David’, just having everyone involved was great. I think that’s what they always wanted as well, to get a bunch of different musicians and friends on the record. They’re not the best singers in the world but it was great craic recording them and their best mates (including me) singing their hearts out in that track. I’d never recorded trumpets or strings before so that was a challenge too, but fun none the less.

Is there anything that you would do differently if you had to do it all over again?
Yeah, buy a studio or rent a house. The whole process dragged on for a while and the guys in my work were starting to get pissed off at me for mixing the tracks week after week when I was supposed to be working. But, if i was to do it again I’d rent a quiet country house, take two weeks off and just hit it hard and get all the recording done in one go. It’s much easier and quicker when you don’t have to keep setting everything up over and over again.

Do you have any tips for bands on how to prepare before going into the studio?
Know your songs and your sounds. It is much easier for a producer to work with a band if they know their songs like the back of their hand and know all their effects and amp settings. Especially if the band are having to pay by the hour, and they are spending their money fiddling with their amp for two hours or teaching a member how to play the song properly. A producer likes a band who are prepared and up for getting stuck in straight away.

Wise words all round from a young producer that from seeing in action personally, I would heavily recommend to any band out there looking to improve on their next recording.

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